HERO Sports welcomes you to "Three-a-Days", where we will preview every single one of the 126 FCS programs, with three teams being released each day from June 17 to July 28. Then, we'll preview all 13 conferences from August 1-4. Today, we present … Abilene Christian
We'll leave no stone left unturned when it comes to giving the FCS diehards all they could ask for this offseason. Learn about every program in the country, with HERO Sports.
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ABILENE CHRISTIAN (6-5 IN 2018)
Southland Conference (ACU was Tied 4th in 2018)
COACH: Adam Dorrel – At School: 2nd year (8-14 record), Overall: 9th year (84-22)
LAST FCS POSTSEASON: None
2018 OFFENSE: 30.1 ppg. (38th in FCS)
2018 DEFENSE: 26.9 ppg. (51st in FCS)
KEY GAME: Sept. 28 – At Incarnate Word: Last year, the 'Cats lost by 10 in this game and one could argue that win helped boosted UIW's first FCS playoff berth. Could an ACU win here boost the 'Cats' chances for their first FCS playoff berth?
SUM IT UP: Want to know who is back? Here's a fact that ACU fans will love — the Wildcats return 24 players who started at least two games last season, including a 3,000-yard passer in Luke Anthony, two stud running backs and a load of playmakers on defense. Dorrel is a proven winner, taking home three D-2 national championships in six years at Northwest Missouri State prior to coming down to Texas to coach ACU.
Last year, this team opened by scoring 27 points on eventual bowl winner Baylor and was two three-point losses away from eight wins and being in the mix for an FCS at-large playoff berth. It also knocked around eventual Southland co-champ Nicholls. While this program's FCS history hasn't been very strong (yet) since moving up in 2013, this may be a year where ACU busts through that "ceiling". The problem is? This isn't the recent past's Southland Conference, full of guaranteed wins.
This fall, the Southland is going to be a gauntlet. Trips to 9-win North Texas and the SEC's Mississippi State will be the usual FBS challenges, but don't be surprised if ACU gives both fits for at least a good chunk of both contests. The firepower is here. The offense is going to score a lot of points this year, and the defense is clutch on third downs, in the redzone and on run defense … and don't be surprised to see the attendance at ACU top the 10,000-fans per game mark (8,991 per game last year). There's a buzz about this program and it'll be interesting to see where things go this fall.
OUR TAKE: I could see seven or eight wins here, easily, but when it comes to playoff potential the D-2 game against Arizona Christian may hurt the 'Cats, and you can't count on a win over an FBS program like a 9-win North Texas team or an SEC program like Mississippi State, so if ACU wants to get into the FCS Playoffs for the first time, it is going to have to be nearly perfect in the Southland. And honestly? It's going to be tough for anybody to be perfect in the Southland this year. Road trips to Central Arkansas and Nicholls are key. The truth is? This may be the best Abilene Christian team since it went 11-1 as a D-II in 2010, yet it's playing against clearly the toughest schedule in ACU history. But make no mistake, this will be a winning program in 2019.
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COUNTDOWN: The Best Player in FCS Who Wears Each Number, 1-99
TOP RETURNEE: Sr./LB Jeremiah Chambers (113 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, Southland First Team All Conference)
THE FOUNDATION: Sr./DB Bolu Onifade (leading tackler); Sr./RB Tracy James (leading rusher); Sr./RB Billy McCrary (Southland newcomer of the year in 2018 from Cal); Jr./QB Luke Anthony (3,019 yds passing, 23 TDs); Jr./OLB Jack Gibbens (78 tackles, 9.5 TFLs); Jr./OL Kade Parmelly (started all 11 games as a sophomore on a unit that allowed a Southland low 16 sacks); Sr./WR Josh Fink (122 career receptions coming into season – 10th in school history).
TOP NEWCOMER: Sr./OL Nico Russolillo (Towson grad transfer – 2-year starter for Tigers).
THE QUOTE: "Our 2018 season has definitely carried over into recruiting season and spring ball. The message our players and coaches continue to sell is the winning season, the win over Nicholls (first win over a top-15 team since moving to Division I football), the win over Sam Houston State (first over the Bearkats since 1983) and the win in Louisiana (over Southeastern Louisiana). We continue to show the parents and the student-athletes the growth we've seen in the classroom and the vision we have for the program and they love it." — Head Coach Adam Dorrel said during spring ball
WERE WE RIGHT?: Last Year's Abilene Christian Preview
FCS 2020 NFL PROSPECTS: The List
BEST FCS TRADITIONS: The List
PREVIEWS: The Rest Of The Southland
Incarnate Word | Lamar | McNeese | Nicholls
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